“Panzer General? Yes, that’s good,” he says.
“Yeah, we need to get back into those games,” he says.
He pauses. “Kursk? Right. Largest battle. 1943.”
I’m sitting next to him in bed contemplating Jane Austen, Revlon’s Raven Red, my perfect peep-toes in a box gathering dust and set atop a stack of magazines on the floor: ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, French Vogue.
I’m considering his remark fired off earlier in the evening. It’s a response triggered by arriving home to a scene that is oh-so mid-century: front hedges trimmed, no dishes in the sink, little woman at the stove, dinner nearly ready. And three years of junk mail on the table, finally deep-sixed.
Also apparent – unusual signs of dusting in progress.
The remark I am referring to is truth couched in jest: “What’s not to love about the 1950s if you’re a man?” he had said. “You were treated like a king. Not very fair, but pleasant if you’re on the winning side.”
The winning side. Really. Must everything be adversarial?
Reacting to the twinkle in his eye at that moment, I had smiled. But I quickly launched an assault of my own – namely, a litany of advantages in equitable partnerships. Since I’m preaching to the converted (or so I believe), he nodded, duly – or maybe dully. The reality of our relationship is this: He cooks 75% of the time, he scrubs the bathroom and the kitchen, he does his own laundry, and we share the shopping. It’s worth mentioning that he has copious amounts of time off in summer, whereas I don’t, though once back to work, it’s 60 hours a week for him.
My schedule – so much crazier – is a matter of variable hours, often onerous, and frequently unpredictable. Managing quality together time can be difficult. And occasionally, a source of friction.
My son pops his head into the room with a buddy he’s known since second grade. It’s been 14 years of friendship and they’re still thick as thieves. It is a night of Spanish rice with quinoa and flax seed, Chorizo sausage from the International Market, sautéed chicken with a touch of garlic. Red wine. (My son abstained. He’s the designated driver.)
I ask about the chin-up bar that is jammed high inside the threshold of the tiny bathroom my kids shared for years. Soon, it will come down and be placed in a closet until Christmas season when my boys will be back from school. No doubt with their friends in tow, much to my pleasure.
In the meantime, my kid and his buddy retreat to the computer. They’re chortling. They’re playing something. They’re speaking a language I don’t understand.
Men are different. (I know, right?)
After the boys head out for a few hours, after ample appreciation for my menu, after an agreeable dessert, I acquiesce to the man I love: “You can have one night a week of time travel back to the 50s.”
“You’ll wear an apron?”
“And heels,” I say.
Hell, anything to give the Enzos a little action. And maybe the turquoise numbers from Michael Kors, too. Picked up for a song on sale.
The house is quieting and he’s in a mellow mood.
“Blitzkrieg is a great game,” he murmurs, sitting up long enough to tap out a search on the keyboard. First the Blitz, then back to the Panzers. He shows me online, but I wish he wouldn’t. To him it looks like fun, and to me it’s war.
“You have infantry, tanks, artillery, planes,” he says. “It’s cool. And it’s useful. It’s strategy.”
Strategy indeed. I wonder if I’ve been played.
As he nods off, I’m closing “guy” tabs on my laptop and zeroing in on Netflix.
Ah… just the thing. Funny Face. Such a stylish combination of classics: Hollywood’s rendition of 1950s Paris; the inimitable Audrey Hepburn; the elegant Fred Astaire. And all of it, served with a side of Givenchy.
Image of Audrey Hepburn, 1954, public domain.
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